Why you need to eat more nuts, revealed by a nutritionist

Whether sprinkled on salads, eaten alone as a snack, or enjoyed in one of our tasty Eat Natural bars, nuts can provide a nutritious addition to your daily diet.

From creamy almonds, through to crunchy peanuts and sweet walnuts, there’s an array of nuts which can add various tastes and textures to food. Eat Natural Nutritionist Ashly Volkert says that nuts can give salads a crunch, for example, ‘chopped almonds and walnuts can be added instead of croutons’.

“Nuts can be added to cereals and they can easily be reduced to a powder to be sprinkled on porridge, yoghurt or added to smoothies.” Plus, Ashly says that nuts work well inside cakes and bread, or they can be added to pasta and sprinkled on steamed veg too!

Are nuts good for you?

So, what’s so great about the humble nut?

The British Heart Foundation says that nuts are ”nutrient-rich food providing us with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that could help reduce our risk of heart and circulatory diseases[1]”.

“There is a perception that nuts are unhealthy due to their fat content, but that’s not the complete picture,” adds Ashly.

The fat that nuts contain is predominantly unsaturated fat[2]. Plus, nuts provide a high-quality source of vegetable protein[3] and according to Ashly, they also pack in various other nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

“Walnuts are also a source of omega-3 fats,” adds Ashly. Studies also show that nuts can satisfy hunger without contributing to weight gain[4]. However because of nuts’ high fat content they do contain a fairly high number of calories, so Ashly recommends limiting your portion size to a small, 30g handful.

“This quantity of nuts generally contains 180 to 225 calories, depending on the type of nuts.

“Eating whole nuts is the best way to include nuts in the diet. Salted nuts and other coatings can add sugar, fat and sometimes salt so try to avoid these.”

So which nuts are healthy? What are the best nuts for weight loss? And which are the best nuts for protein?

The health benefits of peanuts

Although peanuts are technically legumes[5] Ashly says that they’re grouped into the nuts category because they have a ‘similar nutritional profile’.

“Peanuts are rich in essential nutrients and provide a source of vitamin B, vitamin E, and several dietary minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and also fibre.”

She adds that peanuts also contain around 25g of protein per 100g serving. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient[6]. The Eat Natural Protein Packed with Peanuts and Chocolate bar provides 10g of protein per bar thanks to the peanuts and soya protein crispies.

The health benefits of walnuts

This brain-shaped nut is in fact, supportive of brain health! It’s thanks to the omega-3[7] it contains which Ashly says helps to boost heart and brain health. Because of this, studies have found that walnuts could help to decrease the risk of disorders including stroke, depression and Parkinson’s disease as well as type 2 diabetes[8].

Enjoy the delicious taste of walnuts in the Eat Natural Date and Walnut with Pumpkin Seeds bar.

The health benefits of almonds

Sweet, creamy almonds are rich in fibre, magnesium, copper and phytonutrients[9]. Phytonutrients are chemicals made by plants and they can provide several health benefits for humans[10].

Ashy explains almonds are also rich in vitamin E. This vitamin helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, plus it strengthens our immune system[11].

“In addition, almonds are among the highest in calcium.”

Calcium helps build bones and keeps teeth healthy, plus it regulates muscle contractions, including your heartbeat[12].

The health benefits of macadamias

“With one of the highest fat contents, macadamias are often used to add flavour and texture to a dish,” says Ashly. “A macadamia nut is a healthy and nutritious snack filled with manganese, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, folate, healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and more.”

Studies have found that macadamias could help with skin health. Plus they could help reduce the appearance of wrinkles[13], with other research suggesting that the oleic acid found in macadamia nuts could support brain health[14].

Try out the crunchy macadamias in our Eat Natural Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Macadamias bar.

The health benefits of pecans

The pecan nuts’ nutrition stats are strong. This is thanks to the fact that they are filled with a range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B1, zinc, copper and magnesium[16].

“Pecans are a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol,” adds Ashly.

The benefits of cashews

The cashew nuts’ benefits ensure that this buttery, sweet nut is a nice addition to your diet.

“Although cashews are one of the lowest-fibre nuts, they are a little powerhouse; they contribute a good level of protein -plain cashew nuts contain around 15.7g of protein per 100g- and are a useful source of minerals like iron and zinc.

“They are also rich in the mineral magnesium which supports structural and functional processes within the body,” says Ashly.

Try chopping up cashews and throwing into stir frys, or sprinkle on salads for some extra crunch!